Listening


Some may not appreciate this post, but I felt I needed to say something, just for my peace of mind.  It’s the season of politicians and sound bites, the candidates have been chosen and we the people are being inundated with conventions and platforms.  The candidates are not my issue here, but rather the constant barrage of opinions being thrust at anyone who opposes that individuals stance.  Not one candidate is really what I want.  If I agree with their fiscal plan, I disagree with their social plans.  If I agree with their social agenda, I disagree with their economics.  I don’t trust any of them, although I don’t believe any of them want to harm our country.  They are all planning to do what they think is right for the American people.

My problem is I see people talking and no one listening.  The candidates and their campaigns are there to win, so they go after the other team’s weaknesses.  Something said in a speech that gets taken out of context, etc.  But that’s typical and to be expected, as sad as that is.  Where I have an issue is with the American people themselves.  All of us have to choose (should we decide to vote, and if you don’t, that’s your right and prerogative) what topic of each platform is best for us as individuals.  Yet, that doesn’t give you the right to condemn someone else for selecting the opposing candidate.  We as Americans have the right to choose our leaders and representatives and we all have ideas and beliefs as to what is important to ourselves.  That doesn’t make those who believe the opposite necessarily wrong, just that they have different priorities and although we may feel those priorities are not “right”, those people still have the right to have them.

Some people will choose a candidate based on the economy, some on religious (or lack thereof) preference, some will choose based on some personal issues (abortion, gay rights, etc.) and I’m sure many will disagree, as we tend to do.  But we can all do this in a mature and respectful way.  Take the time to really listen to what people are saying and the context in which they say it.  Sometimes actively listening can be difficult when you’re passionate about something, but other people are passionate too.  This all comes down to tolerance and agreeing to disagree.  To embrace the beauty in our culture.  That is the right to disagree.  To disagree with your government, your family, your friends… the freedom to have your own opinion and express it as you wish.  What we all seem to forget is that with great power comes great responsibility and the freedom to say what we wish when we wish is a luxury many people in the world do not possess.

This is not to say that I want to hear hateful, awful things, I do not, but even hateful, awful people have the right to free speech.  They can say what they want as well.  But I choose to remember something my father once told me while watching the news.  They were reporting that the KKK had one of their speeches on the steps of the town hall.  They preached their hatred and bile and the crowds came to yell and oppose them.  There is something wonderful about watching people oppose hate.  When I turned to look at my dad, he was shaking his head, not because he agreed with the Klan, I knew that.  So I asked him why and he said, “That’s why they do it, because the crowds come and stand there.  What would happen if no one showed up to listen?”  That made me think.  He was right.  Without an audience, would these people show up?  I don’t think so.  The whole reason is to get on the news or appeal to the small minded followers looking to join, but without an audience, you lose power.  This seems contradictory to my previous statement, but sometimes the best way to deal with a hateful issue is to walk away.  Now, I don’t mean to tell people not educate themselves about all the issues and organizations out there, we all should pay more attention to those out there that mean us harm.

There will be many people we speak to about the upcoming election.  Some don’t want to talk about it at all and some do nothing but talk about it.  Some will be small minded and fearful and some will be venomous and intolerant, but we can only make decisions for ourselves and how we deal with those things and people around us.  In some cases listen and in others walk away… all I can do is respectfully ask that we all remember that we can agree to disagree and that our differences are what make us wonderful and unique.

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